FDA approves truvada for HIV prevention

On July 16th, 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug for reducing the risk of HIV infection. Gilead Science’s Truvada is actually based in part on technology developed at Emory (Emtriva). In Truvada, a fixed dose of Emtriva (Emtricitabine) is combined with Tenofovir. This exciting news for HIV prophylaxis comes shortly after recent FDA approval of the OraQuick test earlier this month for the detection of HIV using an oral saliva swab.

Visit this link to read more about Truvada and HIV prevention: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/16/truvada-fda-hiv-prevent_n_1677020.html

Global BMI: Where do you fit in?

In recent decades, body mass index (BMI) has been rising globally due to many societal changes, including changes in eating and physical activity habits. Using data from the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine calculated the average BMI for 177 countries and created a tool that enables you to see where your BMI fits in compared with individuals in your own country and others.

The calculator is available through the BBC.


Emory experts weigh in on Supreme Court’s health care decision

Various health policy and legal experts from across the community after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional earlier this week. Commentary was provided from Dr. Timothy Buckman, Director, Emory Center for Critical Care, Dr. Kathleen Adams, professor of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, and William Buzbee, professor of Law, Emory Law School, among others. Read their commentary provided by the Emory News Center and watch Dr. Ken Thorpe discuss the Act below.


The microbiome: What does it mean for human health?

This past week the Human Microbiome Project released the results of a study examining the genetic code of human microbiota collected for more than 15 sites across the bodies of 242 normal, healthy individuals.  Studies of the microbiome are revealing that the bacteria that cohabitate within and on the surface of our bodies are tied in many ways to our lifespan health, and are expected to offer clues to why health differs for seemingly similar people and reveal critical points at which changes to the microbiome may lead to adverse health outcomes.

For a more detailed review of recent studies of the human microbiome, see this commentary by Carl Zimmer from the New York Times.

Emory Athletics: Much to celebrate!

Over the past few weeks, Emory University athletics have had a lot to celebrate!  Just a few of the many recent achievements include:

  • Former student Paul Schwendel was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft
  • Tennis player and recent Academic All-American Zahra Dawson was asked to visit the White House in honor of the anniversary of Title IX
  • Upcoming seniors Miller Douglas and Claire Pavlak qualified for the Olympic Trials beginning in June

For more details about these stories and information on many other recent achievements, please visit the Emory Athletics webpage.

Early results from Emory study indicate progesterone may alleviate damage caused by traumatic brain injury

A team led by Emory University and financed by the National Institutes of Health is currently testing whether progesterone can reduce disability and mortality if administered within four hours after a patient experiences a traumatic brain injury.  There are currently no medications approved for reducing the effects of traumatic brain injury. In an earlier preliminary trial with 100 participants, also conducted by Emory University, the 30-day mortality rate for patients receiving progesterone injections was 13% compared with 30% for patients receiving a placebo.

The current trial is expected to include 1,140 participants from trauma centers around the country over the next three years, though the early results will be evaluated this summer and if found highly effective could be put into clinical practice earlier than originally anticipated. For more details, and commentary from Dr. Donald Stein, neuroscientist and professor of emergency medicine at Emory University, please see the following New York Times report.

Know Your Portions for Healthy Eating

Nutrition is not just what you eat, but also how much of each item you consume. One major change that is cited as a reason leading to the overwhelming overweight and obesity epidemic seen in the United States is portion size which is increased in the presence of larger plates and food containers. In a study of obese adults with type 2 diabetes, patients using a portion-controlling plate (with segments labeled for starch, protein, and vegetables) lost significantly more weight than their non-portion controlled counterparts, and 26% were able to be taken off of their diabetes-related medications.

To help Americans learn more about portion control, as well as see how portion sizes have changed in the last 10 to 20 years, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides a quick reference portion guide, as well as two “Portion Distortion” interactive quizzes where you can test your knowledge of nutrition.

Sugar: What kind is best? Is there a good kind?

The controversy over the proposed banning large-sized soft drinks in New York City has also sparked interest among consumers over whether all sweeteners are created equal. In particular, are the replacement sweeteners like Sweet’N Low or Spenda better than consuming real sugar? The New York Times recently addressed this issue, with the ultimate conclusion: “Eat and drink less sweet stuff.”

Photos from the Field: Human Health Studies in the Balkans

Dr. Cassandra Quave, CSHH Postdoctoral Fellow, has just completed a field study in NE Albania in collaboration with Dr. Andrea Pieroni, from the University of Gastronomic Sciences (Italy). The scope of the study was to investigate traditional health practices, including the use of wild plants for food and medicine, in several small Albanian and Gorani communities located in the Dinaric Alps near Mount Gjallica. Photos capturing the local agricultural, food, and health traditions can be accessed here on Dr. Quave’s website.

An evolutionary view of depression


Researchers Andrew Miller, MD and William P. Timmie, PhD of Emory University, and Charles Raison, MD, previously at Emory University and now at the University of Arizona, are taking an evolutionary approach to studying the relationships between depression and immune system function.

Due to findings that much of the genetic variation observed in depression is related to changes in immune system function, specifically in inflammation, they propose that this would have offered an evolutionary benefit in terms of being able to fight infections.  For example, there are numerous behavioral factors related to depressions that may have been adaptive in terms of restricting or containing infection, including social avoidance and fatigue/inactivity.

To read more about their recent publication, visit the Emory News Center website.  Part two of the video above is available through the Emory University You Tube Channel.